As a child I was always confused by the Summer Solstice and Midsummer. One is a solar event and scientifically predicted and observed; the other is more nebulous and coincides with St. John’s Day (John the Baptist) a few days later on the 24th June. This then places the magical Midsummer’s Eve (that one and the same wild event as in the woodland shenanigans of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s dream’) on the 23rd of the month… which is today.

I find it easier to understand the meaning of the dates and unfolding progression of the planets and the natural world around the time of the Winter Solstice, with the shortest day and longest night around the 21st December, followed by several days of dark stillness until the morning of the 25th December (Christmas Day) when the the Sun (or Son) is seen to be reborn and when the length of daylight might actually be measured as longer once more.

The same applies to Midsummer but in reverse: the Summer Solstice marks the time when the Sun is closest to the Earth and we experience the longest amount of daylight and the shortest amount of darkness – indeed, even in the United Kingdom if the sky is clear on this night, the sky never fully darkens at all.

Then we pass through several days when the literal meaning of the word Solstice (‘sun stands still’) becomes apparent as days and nights appear to remain the same length, before the days inexorably and measurably begin to grow shorter once more from the 24th June onwards. Just as the Sun is seen to be reborn a few days after the Winter Solstice and we anticipate the lighter half of the year, so on the 24th June, we begin to witness the reverse effects of this solar event and the Darkness is reborn once more as we turn our faces to the encroaching dark half of the year.

In some pagan circles, the two halves of the year are represented by the Oak King who rules from Midwinter and represents the Light, and his bother the Holly King, who ules from Midsummer and represents the Darkness.

The significance of the Light and Dark, Jesus and St. John, the Oak King and the Holly King celebrating these two pivotal occasions in out calendar are all too obvious. Whatever one’s beliefs or method of interpreting or explaining them, the fact remains that these solar events are absolutely key to the continuation of life on this planet and have been – and are still – celebrated by many people of all religious persuasions and beliefs around the globe from time immemorial.

The evening of the 23rd of June is Midsummer’s Eve. and mirrors the magic and sanctity of Mother’s Night which coincides with Christmas Eve at Midwinter.

This is one of those times during our year when the veils between the many levels of existence thins enabling us to peer through into other times and places, and, in this particular instance and most importantly, into what is to come… into what we would like to become our future… an opportunity not just to view it but to drift and dream and decide what we would like to create our future to be.

There are many myths and stories, beliefs and traditions associated with Midsummer’s Eve. It is a night populated by the Fae and the Faerie, and by all manner of beings from other dimensions who are temporarily able to engage with us – a time when you may appeal to and seek the assistance of such wondrous beings.

I shall show my respect for our local Tylwyth Teg by honouring them with some gifts – crusty home-baked bread, local honey fragrant with the scent of last summer’s flowers, creamy cheese, and the rich amber of whisky. these shall be served on fine porcelain and crystal on the front lawn under the holly tree at dusk.

Personally, I like to sit with the evening shadows in the cool of the garden, surrounded by the peaceful valley and silent mountains. A high place or the beach are also good places to tune into this magical night.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I wish you a very merry Midsummer, and many wonderful things to come your way in the second half of your year!